There is an old saying about Hindsight being 20/20. Thinking back on past events allows a clearer perspective than being in the midst of the present. It’s easy to imagine how we might have handled a particular situation, or to criticize others for what they they did wrong. It has to do with perspective. Being in the heat of the moment is not the same as looking at cold stats. Watching a game from the stands offers a different vantage point than being on the field. It also takes away pressure to perform, adrenaline rush and the intimidation factor of the opposing team. Your team always win when you coach from the recliner. The same is true when watching the game film. We’ve all heard people say “I wish I knew then what I know now.”
Many Christians have read the Bible, or at least parts of it, many times. We have the benefit of knowing the whole story. We can look at the Old Testament, for example, from a New Testament point of view. When reading the Gospels it may be hard to put yourself in the shoes of the disciples or others characters who met Jesus. It can be frustrating, the same way Lois Lane makes you feel every time she fails to recognize that Clark Kent is Superman. Bible students have asked me how people could not get it. It takes a lot for us to imagine how the disciples felt and what they were thinking at the time. We just know too much.
In Mark 8 Jesus began teaching his disciples that he will be killed and rise again. Mark even says he spoke plainly, in other words without parables. Not only did they fail to understand but Peter even argued with him. Jesus explained again in Mark 9. And 10. After the death, burial and resurrection the Holy Spirit would help them recall the events of his lifetime. Looking back, knowing what they knew then, it made more sense. Peter understands a lot more in Acts 2 than he did in Mark 8.
During Holy Week we focus on how three years of Jesus’ earthly ministry all came to a head. No matter how many times we come back to it, the thing to keep in mind is that the Jesus’ followers, friends, Apostles, critics, Jewish leaders and Roman soldiers didn’t even know what they didn’t know. Some of the same Jews that shouted “Hosanna!” on the day Jesus entered Jerusalem would be shouting “Crucify him!” by the end of the week. We have the advantage of understanding how the story turned out. We have a whole Bible that lays out God’s plan past, present and future. At the same time, however, take a look around. Every day people continue to accept or reject Jesus. To the born again believer it’s obvious, but if we’re honest with ourselves it has not always been. At some point we each had to take a serious look at the options and decide if Jesus is who says he is and can do the things he has promised. Is Jesus the Son of God or a wise prophet? Did he die on the cross and rise again, or is the resurrection mythology? We must be patient as we witness to others keeping in mind that we once wrestled with the same crisis of belief.
The disciples left everything behind and followed Jesus, but they still had faith issues and made mistakes. We must keep that in mind and be patient with fellow believers.